Curiouser and curiouser!
These were the words uttered by Alice, when Wonderland became stranger at every turn. The same words might well apply to the strange case of Ronald Cardema, 34, who insists against all evidence that he is qualified to be a congressman representing the youth, when the law clearly states that youth sector nominees must be no older than 30 years old.
Over the weekend, things took an even more bizarre turn, when the nominee for the Duterte Youth Party-list group accused a poll commissioner of extortion, saying she demanded favors from him in exchange for approving the party's accreditation in January.
Like the realm created by Lewis Carroll, there is little internal logic in Cardema's world.
At a press conference, Cardema alleged that Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, through an emissary, had demanded P2 million from his party-list and asked him for the appointment of a lawyer as a regional trial court judge in Iloilo and another person as the public works regional director of Negros.
But Cardema, who overstayed his welcome as head of the National Youth Commission, had neither the power nor influence to grant such demands, a fact that Guanzon well knows.
“Why on earth, of all people, will I ask him for the appointment [of these individuals]?” she asked pointedly in reaction to Cardema's latest claim. “Why, is he the President? Can he appoint a judge?” Cardema's allegations, she said, were made simply to elicit publicity and sympathy and to maneuver her into recusing herself in his disqualification case, something she said she would not do.
Last Tuesday, Cardema filed a motion for reconsideration, asking the Commission on Elections en banc to reconsider its decision to cancel his nomination because of the age issue. If that fails, he added, he would go to the Supreme Court to settle the dispute.
At his press conference, Cardema broke into tears when he talked about his wife, whom he substituted as Duterte Youth nominee at the last minute. She was four months pregnant, he said, and was in hospital because of stress and could lose her baby.
This plea for sympathy, however, did not fool the poll watchdog group, Kontra Daya, which said his allegations merely proved that he was willing to circumvent the law to become a congressman.
Cardema was only digging a hole for himself, to which “jail time is becoming more and more possible,” a spokesman for the group said.
Surely, it cannot be lost on the Palace that Cardema and his Duterte Youth are increasingly becoming an embarrassment to the President, whose name they borrowed. Perhaps somebody from the administration should quietly explain to him that he has struck out and that he should stop swinging. At this Cardema should consider himself fortunate. A less benevolent ruler might simply say: “Off with their heads!”